Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions was sworn in on February 9, 2017, as the newest Attorney General of the United States. For some people this will have varying impacts on their daily lives, but for individuals facing federal criminal charges the implications are massive. As has been made clear by President Trump, and now Attorney General Sessions, there will be a renewed emphasis on violent crimes, illegal immigration, drug crimes and organized criminal organizations.
Attorney General Sessions on his first day in office met with senior officials from the Justice Department’s law enforcement components, including FBI Director James Comey, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Acting Director Thomas Brandon, U.S. Marshals Service Acting Director David Harlow and Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg. They discussed, among other things:
[H]ow to combat the rise in violent crime and prevent drug-related deaths. They expressed their shared commitment to strengthen law enforcement and save lives.
One worry is whether Attorney general Sessions will walk back Obama administration directives regarding mandatory minimum sentencing and enhanced drug penalties. Over the course of the last two and a half years, many people have benefitted from this memorandum and received significantly reduced sentences because of these policies. The Department may also make changes to the way they handle financial crimes and move to reverse policies put in place by the previous administration; specifically as to the prosecution of individuals for corporate crimes.
Only time will tell how the Department of Justice policies will change, but chances are they will be less favorable for criminal defendants. And, if President Trump’s speed in changing policy is any indication, we may see those policies revamped sooner rather than later. If you have a pending federal criminal case, it is important to discuss the possible changes that may occur. You do not want to get caught out when new, harsher policies come down.